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Imagination vs reality

Travel Forums General Talk Imagination vs reality

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1. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 11y

Just wondering, what's the most that your imagination of a place has differed from the reality? I always find it interesting comparing how I imagined a place beforehand to what it actually is like. For instance, my mental image of Japan was quite different to the reality. In reality it was far less confusing/hectic than I would have thought. Spain too was quite different to my somewhat deluded mental image of fantastic food on every corner and flamengo dancing on the streets I'm not saying either of these places were disappointing .. just different and a reminder to always expect the unexpected.

Any similar experiences? Or does everyone else get exactly what they bargained for?

2. Posted by beerman (Respected Member 1631 posts) 11y

Yow, good question.

I'd have to say Panama differed greatly from what I anticipated. I mentally pictured vast lush jungles from the interior to the seashore, broken occassionally by stretches of ranch and farm land. The cities were pretty much as I had envisioned them to be, albeit a tad more polluted.

We drove 1400 km around the country in 12 days, and it was really an eye-opener. We did not see the Darien, which is supposed to be quite heavily forested, but we did see parts of the Metropolitan Park. Urban jungle......it looked rather like the forest preserves outside of Chicago.

The rest of the country was surprisingly de-forested. Even up in the mountains in the center and west of the country, there was a remarkable lack of vegetation. Web sites devoted to Panama don't give this impression (and we scoured a number of them).

Oh well, I guess you just have to visit a place to get a true idea of what it's like.

Didn't see a single monkey either......

3. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

I'm always surprised by how different a place feels once I get there. It somehow feels more like home - more familiar - than I thought it would (maybe that would be different if I visited a place that's really, really different from home - like China, say). I think I tend picture all these places like they'd appear in the movies - kind of distant and idealized and complex to explore. But give me a day or two and that homey feeling sets in.

What I love, though, are those little surprises that alter things I'd taken for granted. Like the Eiffel tower. Here I assumed it was black, but in fact it's a rusty brown. I actually called my mother to tell her, I was so thrown for a loop.

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 11y

Quoting tway

I'm always surprised by how different a place feels once I get there. It somehow feels more like home - more familiar - than I thought it would (maybe that would be different if I visited a place that's really, really different from home - like China, say). I think I tend picture all these places like they'd appear in the movies - kind of distant and idealized and complex to explore. But give me a day or two and that homey feeling sets in.

I bet China would feel like home after a few days as well :) I'm already adjusting my expectations of China (for whenever the time might come) after several people I know have been there and come back with invariably somewhat surprising stories.

I actually found London was quite different to my expectations last time I visited, even after having been there several times before when I was younger. In fact, perhaps because I was there when I was younger, I had expanded on the image in my head and made it far more grand than it actually was. Mainly it felt a lot smaller than I thought. The lack of tall (I mean really tall) buildings immediately makes it feel more small towny to me. And the fact that all the pubs closed at 10PM didn't help much either In the end the reality is usually actually far more interesting anyway.

5. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 11y

CAlifornia was quite different from how I had imagined it. I wasnt really too enthusiastic about going there, but have completely changed my opinion since. The parts I visited were great!

Also, Slovenia was very different. I had an idea in my head that it was going to be a certain way, and it was nothing like that. I loved Slovenia! It reminded me a little bit of home.

Italy was almost exactly as a I pictured it, as was Prague.

I know exactly what you mean Tway. I usually find the 2nd or 3rd day is the most enjoyable in a new place, as you start to develop a sort of relationship with your surroundings. Its quite a nice feeling.

I've never really been completely thrown by somewhere new, but I think thats because most of my travels so far have been in Europe. I might come back to this thread in 6-8 months time, and I might have some different opinions!;)

6. Posted by summer910 (Respected Member 1342 posts) 11y

I thought Eindhoven would be quite lively at night, after having experienced some of Amsterdam and Rotterdam's night life. To my disappointment, it was almost like a ghost town by 7pm.

No offence to those living in Eindhoven, but it being deserted at 7pm on a Saturday night is just...

7. Posted by Isadora (Travel Guru 13926 posts) 11y

Beerman beat me to the reality of Panama...

I actually visualized the area around Manzanillo, Mexico to be more like what we saw in Panama - deforestation and farmland. But, to my surprise, it was a lush jungle with howler monkeys vocalizing continually. Though I never saw them in the trees, they made their presence known in a very boistrous way. I was quite pleased with the forested area coming right up to the beach. Now, if someone could have done something about the open sewage pond right in back of the hotel - I would have been a much happier camper. (My suitcase and clothes wreaked of sewage when I got home. Beerman and our best friend, aka roommate, weren't very pleased with the olfactory assault.)

8. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 11y

I'm never able to imagine what it's gonna be like!!! Except if I've been in that certain place before, obviously.

That's actually a problem, because I feel like I'm telling a lie when I tell people I'm going away... And I never feel as excited as I should before a long trip. ANd the night before I'm leaving I always get very very nervous and can't sleep...

On the other hand, this prevents me from disappointments! Since I'm not really expecting anything. :)

//Susanna

9. Posted by snatterand (Travel Guru 454 posts) 11y

Quoting snatterand

I'm never able to imagine what it's gonna be like!!! Except if I've been in that certain place before, obviously.

...been to that certain place...

10. Posted by Blitz198 (Full Member 99 posts) 11y

As Tway said, the Eiffel Tower was brown, and I expected it to be black. But it was still awesome.